Apathy Is Not an Option

I was raised in a very conservative family- sex was not discussed openly, but you certainly did not want a reputation as a “loose girl.”  How that could happen was up to me to figure out, but it had something to do with boys.  When I got to college, it was the late sixties, and love, free sex and birth control pills were everywhere! How could I deal with these new freedoms?  I was excited by the ideas, but scared of the consequences if I made the wrong choices.  In the back of my mind, I was consoled by the thought of Planned Parenthood – somewhere I could go if there were questions or issues that I could never discuss at home.

I married and raised two daughters in a home where I hoped we could discuss most anything.  I always tried to convey these thoughts:  ask me, I love you, trust me, I will not lie, and if I don’t know the answer, we will find out.  Of course, mothers and daughters cannot always discuss everything without some embarrassment or judgement, so when they were away at university, I told them, “go to Planned Parenthood – they will always be there for you.”  Continue reading

Despite Being a Red State, Arizonans Support Choice

Tabling with VOX at Terry Goddard's rally at the UofA

Tabling with VOX at Terry Goddard’s rally at the UofA

I started volunteering for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona when I moved to Tucson for my sophomore year of college. I was drawn to Planned Parenthood because I saw in the organization a combination of two things I wanted to be a part of: pro-choice feminism and political activism. My first event was a crowd canvass at a local street fair. I was not the sort of person who regularly spoke to strangers, let alone asked them for their signatures on pro-choice petitions. But I quickly got over the awkwardness and discovered I loved it. People were overwhelmingly supportive and grateful for our presence. There were those who ignored us and moved on, but they were few and far between. I remember the men and women who smiled, not the ones who rolled their eyes.

The next few events I attended were much of the same. People were friendly and supportive. I kept volunteering for the rest of the year and began attending VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood) meetings as well.

This past summer I returned home to Illinois to spend the school break with my family. Bored and unemployed, I applied for an internship with Planned Parenthood of Illinois, and a few months later got the job. Continue reading

Amanda Is Here Because Women Deserve Better Than Forced “Choices”

Canvassing in LD17 with David Schapira

Canvassing in LD17 with David Schapira

“She heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin’ through the doors. They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore. God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes. ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose.”

I remember hearing those Everlast lyrics one day when I was a teenager. My thoughts were very different then, but I was at a different stage in my life. I was a devout Baptist.

As a doting follower, I felt that part of my salvation relied upon opposing abortion. What did that mean to me? That there were lost souls in the world “killing babies” and that it was my duty to stop this atrocity. It meant that I was right because I had the Bible and Jesus Christ on my side, and anyone who opposed me was blinded by Satan and obviously wrong. To be frank, I knew absolutely nothing about abortion; not what it truly was or the reasons for women seeking it. I opposed it because my faith told me to, and it wasn’t a big deal to me.

A few years later, I feel that I was given a dose of my own medicine. Continue reading

Marianne Is Here Because Sex Ed Matters

Volunteering at the PPAZ office

I believe in Planned Parenthood. I believe in reproductive freedom, the right to choose, medically accurate sexuality education for all people, access to all reproductive medical care options and, especially, freedom from harassment for women who make that choice.

I am here for Planned Parenthood because I remember my high school years. I grew up in Santa Monica, California and I was educated in the Catholic school system. The best part was this was the early to mid-’70s. There was still kind of a ‘hangover’ from the late ’60s to early ’70s with ‘free love’, ‘summer of love’ and Woodstock. The ‘hangover’ was evident in our high school. The school administration was unabashedly liberal. They actually believed that ‘sex ed’ should be more than just some put-upon phys ed instructor, usually the football coach, trying to maintain order amongst a group of giggling teenagers and passing on some hard-won information about reproduction, sexual intercourse, birth and STDs.

The administration set up a balance of courses that the students passed through at each grade level. Freshman usually started with just the regular catechism courses. These taught the church’s position with regard to birth control and the role of sexual intercourse inside and outside marriage. This was required; after all, we were a Catholic high school. Continue reading

Serena Is Here Because She Cares

Volunteering at Tucson Pride

Volunteering at Tucson Pride

Several years ago I attended a speech by actress Kathleen Turner, who was a national spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Federation of America at the time.  Turner told the college audience about how she had relied on Planned Parenthood’s health care services when she was a student, and she encouraged all of us to take advantage of the services offered there, too.  But, she told us, when we were in a position to give back to Planned Parenthood, we had an obligation to do so.

I volunteer at Planned Parenthood to fulfill that obligation. For more than ten years, I have depended on Planned Parenthood to provide affordable health care. When I haven’t been able to afford a Pap smear, I have been able to count on Planned Parenthood to help me out. When I needed information about pro-choice ballot issues or electoral candidates, I turned to Planned Parenthood to give me reliable information. No matter what, I know that I can count on Planned Parenthood to be there for me. Which is why I have made up my mind to be there for them. Continue reading

Stacey Is Here Because She Trusts Women

Looking back, I don’t think I ever made a formal, conscious decision to be pro-choice. For me, there’s never been any hand-wringing or laborious thinking about the issue of choice. I have always, always felt that the choice whether to, or when to, become a mother was the basic, fundamental right of every woman alive.

I never really envisioned myself as an “activist” either, but for me the urge to volunteer and advocate for Planned Parenthood came on strong and suddenly.

I was surfing the net one afternoon and came across this video:

I’d honestly never seen anything like it. As a former patient at a Planned Parenthood center in the Midwest, I couldn’t recall ever seeing protesters on my routine preventive care visits. Not even one.

Watching the video, I couldn’t fathom what possessed these people to stand outside of a center, where women seek out private medical care, screaming hateful, often deceptive messages.

I thought they were sick, mean, and crazy to even conceive of doing such a thing.

I hadn’t been a patient at Planned Parenthood since college, but I could only imagine how utterly horrible it would have been to have hateful propaganda screamed at me by strangers while heading into a contraception visit or annual Pap smear. Continue reading

A Word of Thanks to Planned Parenthood’s Supporters!

thanksgivingAs we approach Thanksgiving, it’s a good time to reflect on all of the things that we have to be thankful for this year. Although the 2010 elections didn’t turn out entirely as we had hoped, we can still be grateful for the many positive things that did happen as a result of the election. For example, because of our dedicated team of volunteers, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona was able to achieve the following goals during this year’s election season:

  • From August 24 – November 2, our volunteers donated 1,002.5 hours towards electing pro-choice candidates.
  • We exceeded our goal of making 5,500 phone calls by calling 6,480 pro-choice supporters.
  • We knocked on 909 doors to get out the pro-choice vote.
  • And our volunteers wrote 23 blog articles to help educate pro-choice voters about the issues.

You can watch our fabulous volunteers in action by watching our end of the year slide show.  If you’d like to get involved for all of the exciting things we have in store in 2011, send an e-mail to advocate@ppaz.org.

We can also express our thanks for strong pro-choice representatives, like Congressman Raul Grijalva and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as well as state legislators like Linda Lopez, Paula Aboud, Steve Farley, David Schapira, and Daniel Patterson, just to name a few. They have consistently voted to support women’s access to reproductive health care, and we appreciate their continued support.

Finally, thank you to all of you who financially support Planned Parenthood Arizona. We couldn’t provide comprehensive reproductive health care services for women and families in the state of Arizona without you.

Here’s to a Happy Thanksgiving, and a very Happy Holiday Season as the month turns into December!